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Bible Dictionaries

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary

Prophecy

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The foretelling of future events, by inspiration from God. It is very different from a sagacious and happy conjecture as to futurity, and from a vague and equivocal oracle, without any certain meaning. A true prophecy can come only from God; and is the highest proof of the divine origin of the message of which it is a part. A true prophecy may be known by these marks; being announced at a suitable time before the event it foretells; having a particular and exact agreement with that event; being such as no human sagacity or foresight could produce; and being delivered by one claiming to be under the inspiration of the Almighty. Many of the prophecies of Scripture foretold events ages before they occurredevents of which there was then no apparent probability, and the occurrence of which depended on innumerable contingencies, involving the history of things and the volitions of persons not then in existence; and yet these predictions were fulfilled at the time and place and in the manner prophesied. Such were the predictions respecting the coming and crucifixion of the Messiah, the dispersion and preservation of the Jews, etc.

The Scripture prophecies are a scheme of vast extent, the very earliest predictions reaching down to the end of the world's history a scheme gradually and harmoniously developed from age to age, and by many different persons, some of them not fully apprehending, and "searching diligently what the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify," 1 Peter 1:11 , the whole manifestly the work of Jehovah, and marvelous in our eyes. A degree of obscurity rests on the prophetic writings, which patient and prayerful study alone can dispel; while those that are yet unfulfilled must await the coming of the events, which will make all at length clear. Many predictions relating primarily to events and deliverance's near at hand, were also designed of God as sure prophecies of yet more illustrious events in the future. For example, the general subject of the predictions in Matthew 24:1-51 is the coming of Christ, to judge his foes and deliver his friends. In penning a sketch of this subject, Matthew imitates a painter depicting from an eminence the landscape before him: the tower of the village church in the near foreground, and the mountain peak in the dim and remote horizon, rise side by side on his canvas. So in painting the coming of Christ, Matthew sketches first some features of his coming in the destruction of Jerusalem to occur within forty years, and in the next verse some distinctive features of his second coming at the end of the world; yet both belong to the same general view. Respecting the New Testament phrase, "This was done that it might be fulfilled," etc., see FULFILLED. For other meanings of "prophecy," see PROPHETS.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of the topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Prophecy'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ats/p/prophecy.html. 1859.

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